This new photo from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) shows the Pencil Nebula, which formed after a supernova explosion about 11,000 years ago.
Also known as NGC 2736, these linear clouds of dust and gas are located 800 light-years away in the southern constellation of Vela.
The image was taken using the Wide Field Imager (WFI) on the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG) 2.2-meter telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
NGC 2736 is the brightest part of the supernova remnant, an expanding gas shell from the original explosion. The initial shock wave traveled at extreme velocity through space, slowing down as it collided with and heated up interstellar material.
The nebula’s luminosity is due to dense gas regions that have been struck by the shock wave, with different colors due to varying gas temperatures. The hottest areas contain ionized oxygen atoms, which are glowing blue, while cooler regions are glowing red due to the presence of hydrogen.
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